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No-comment barrister reprimanded for breath test refusal

Police station: Barrister failed to co-operate

A barrister convicted of refusing to undergo breath tests when suspected of drink driving has been reprimanded by a Bar disciplinary tribunal, which criticised him for giving a no-comment interview to police.

Adnan Siddiq, who was called in 2012 and is a non-practising barrister, said that as well as a driving ban, he had lost his job as a paralegal and become homeless as a result.

After being stopped while driving in East London last year, he was convicted of failing to co-operate with a roadside breath test and then failing to provide a specimen of breath at the custody suite of Stoke Newington Police Station.

The tribunal found that, in doing so, he had behaved in way that undermined his integrity and public trust.

It said the offences were more serious than a conviction for drink driving because the panel could not know what the level of alcohol in his blood was.

The tribunal acknowledged that Mr Siddiq admitted the charge to the police and did not contest the prosecution, and had also suffered “severe adverse consequences” by losing his job as a paralegal.

But equally, the lack of co-operation with the police on the day was “a matter of serious aggravation” – in addition to not giving a sample on two occasions, he gave a no-comment interview.

“Although you were entitled to and advised to give a no-comment interview, you are a professional man and you had to decide whether no comment was the appropriate response at the time.

“You did not at the time say any of the things you could have done to the police that might have helped them or us to understand what you did. Although your right, you also have to bear in mind that you have obligations to the profession and to the public.”

The tribunal reprimanded Mr Siddiq and issued a fine of £400, reduced from £1,000 because he was on Universal Credit.

For the same reason, the tribunal also rejected the Bar Standards Board’s application for £1,200 in costs, ordering he pay £60 instead.

Meanwhile, the general counsel at the British Film Institute has been reprimanded by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) after being convicted of drink-driving.

Richard Brousson pleaded guilty last year and was banned from driving for a year. In mitigation, the SRA said he fully cooperated with the police, but added that the reprimand created “a credible deterrent to Mr Brousson and others”.